McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation and K-8 Science Labs

Shady Side Academy is fully embracing the possibilities of science with exciting new and renovated facilities across three of its campuses.

McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation

McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation

The $12 million McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation opened in May 2018 as the stunning new home of the SSA Senior School Science Department. Funds are still needed for the building's $2 million endowment, which will provide the necessary financial resources to support its upkeep and maintenance in perpetuity, without placing financial strain on the Academy's operating budget. A portion of building endowment funds also will be allocated toward continuously updating lab equipment and resources, ensuring the McIlroy Center remains a state-of-the-art facility for years to come.


  • Cornerstone of a new academic quad with McCune Library, Hunt Hall and Rowe Hall
  • 10 flexible classroom/lab spaces for physics, biology and chemistry featuring college-level lab equipment
  • Larger, more responsive spaces for research, collaboration and independent study
  • Special project room adjacent to faculty offices, separated by a glass partition, giving students supervised access to research space throughout the school day
  • Gold LEED certified "green" building with sustainable features that reduce environmental impact while creating teaching opportunities, such as a rooftop solar array and monitoring system, and a rain garden to collect storm runoff.
  • Outdoor amphitheater provides an ideal interdisciplinary space for classes, performances and guest lectures

Dedication Ceremony: May 18, 2018

Shady Side Academy officially dedicated the McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation with an afternoon ceremony and reception on Friday, May 18, 2018. The ceremony began with remarks from Academy President Tom Cangiano, Jeff McIlroy '86 (on behalf of his parents, Peter '61 and Pam McIlroy, and family), Campaign for Shady Side Co-Chairs Lou Plung '80 and Rob Mullin '93, and Board of Trustees Chair Mike Hannon '74 and Chair-Elect Jon Kamin '91. Then, the ribbon was officially cut by Jeff McIlroy and Bruce Wiegand '65, alongside their wives, Erica and Barbara, as well as Robert and Megan Glimcher, Cangiano, Hannon and Kamin. A festive reception followed inside, including student-led tours of the building.

Dedication Video


Junior & Middle School Science Labs

From 2014-2016, the science labs at the Junior and Middle Schools were fully renovated to support the Academy's hands-on approach to science education for K-8 students.

Junior School Science Labs

In summer 2015, the Junior School's lone 1,900-square-foot science classroom/lab was renovated and expanded into a 3,000-square-foot suite of five new labs, including early elementary (K-2) and upper elementary (3-5) labs, plus an ecosystem lab, science idea lab, and robotics and maker space. The labs feature age-appropriate, moveable furniture, sinks, SMART Boards and storage for student projects. Windows and glass partitions between the labs flood the space with natural light and allow young scientists to see what's happening in adjacent labs.

The robotics and maker space has enabled the school to bring its popular after-school robotics program into the curriculum: K-2 students are introduced to robotics using Lego WeDo kits, while students in grades 3-5 learn to program robots using Lego Mindstorms NXT kits. The ecosystem lab allows students to engage in ecology projects year-round, enhancing existing units in botany and farming. The science idea lab provides a comfortable space for students to explore scientific ideas and record lab observations using iPads and laptops.

Middle School Science Labs

The Middle School's three science classroom/labs were renovated in 2014 and 2016 to better support the school's interactive, collaborative and project-oriented approach to teaching science.

In summer 2014, upgrades to the sixth and eighth grade labs created more flexible spaces with new moveable workstations and chairs, casework, sinks, flooring, ceilings, paint and LED lighting. iPad storage units in both labs support the integration of technology into the classroom through the school's 1: 1 iPad program. The eighth grade lab has iPad docking stations on the lab tables, plus a kitchenette and storage area.

The seventh grade lab was renovated in summer 2016, expanding its footprint by 50 percent by capturing additional square footage from an adjacent hallway, as well as an atrium that was transformed into a greenhouse space. The lab received new moveable workstations and chairs, teacher podium with demonstration table and sink, casework with four student sinks, flooring, ceiling, paint and LED lighting. The room also includes built-in spaces for the cages and tanks that are home to class animals including chinchillas, rabbits, guinea pigs, a lizard and fish.

The upgraded labs not only support science classes during the school day, but also the school's robotics, rocketry and state championship Science Olympiad teams, which use the labs at the end of the day and on weekends.